COUNCIL chiefs are considering cutting speed limits and introducing 40mph buffer zones to improve road safety through a village.

Currently, motorists travelling towards Durham City can drive at 60mph until Bearpark’s western outskirts, where a 30mph zone begins – reaching through the village and beyond its eastern limits; where a 60mph regime returns, almost all the way to houses on Toll House Road, in Neville’s Cross.

Durham County Council chiefs are consulting on moving the 30mph limits to the edges of the built up area of Bearpark and introducing 40mph buffer zones at each end of the village, aimed at gradually slowing traffic.

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The eastern 40mph buffer zone would reach all the way to the 30mph limit on Toll House Road, abolishing the 60mph stretch.

Brian Buckley, the council’s strategic highways manager, said: “We are consulting on changes to the speed limit in and approaching Bearpark village. It is planned to move the current 30mph speed limit to the start of the main built up area of the village and then have a 40mph buffer zone to precede this limit.

“This is a recognised road safety measure and would make the limit more credible to drivers which should lead to greater compliance.

“There will also be improved road markings and entrance signs to the village.”

The formal consultation on the proposals began yesterday (November 15) and continues until Thursday, December 6.

They have won the backing of local county councillors Mark Wilkes and Rev Crooks.

Coun Wilkes said: “We have fought to get to this stage for nearly five years and I’m really happy to say that we are now close to improving safety at both ends of the village.”

Coun Crooks said the proposals would have to be put to the people but he hoped a flashing ‘slow’ sign would also be installed.

The Bearpark area has been the scene of several serious crashes in recent years and the stretch between Bearpark and Durham includes a narrow bridge over the River Browney.

To take part in the consultation, write to: Loraine Holding, Legal Assistant, County Hall, Durham.